Inquiry critical of RTA

SYDNEY (AAP). ? The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has ignored many community concerns about planned upgrades of the Pacific Highway on the Far North Coast, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

An inquiry into the upgrades yesterday released its interim report, which found while there was strong support for the works, the community was anxious about the plans' scale and location.

Committee chair Jenny Gardiner said Far North Coast residents were especially critical of the RTA's community consultation processes.

"The committee believes that the RTA lacks candour in their dealings with the committee...(which is) indicative of the RTA's approach to community consultation," Ms Gardiner said.

"Local residents claim the RTA is not committed to community consultation.

"They believe the RTA decided its preferred route before the upgrade projects even began, and that the consultation processes were structured to ensure that community views would not influence the final outcome."

The interim report said a central complaint from residents was the RTA was dismissive of community input, and that community concerns had little weight in the RTA's decision making processes.

Inquiry participants were critical of the operation of community liaison groups, claiming they were unrepresentative, lacked influence and lacked openness in their proceedings.

Ms Gardiner said the committee had made recommendations to improve community satisfaction with the RTA's consultation process.

"These recommendations aim to substantially improve the RTA's community consultation processes to ensure that they are transparent, representative, timely and influential," she said.

The committee said the RTA should advise residents of planned information sessions, provide a comprehensive and detailed information package to all affected residents when route options are announced, and liaise with property owners to explain their rights.

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